Victims of human rights violations remembered

by Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Vancouver-Canada

Some eighty people met for the solidarity picnic called “PeaceMeal” at Trout Lake Park in Vancouver on Sunday, August the 14th. The event was jointly organized by The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Migrante-BC,  the Victoria-Philippines Solidarity Group and WedPro.

Participants of diverse communities and organizations attended to remember the victims of repression in the Philippines and reaffirm their commitment of solidarity in opposing human rights violations. Joining Filipinos and Filipino-Canadians, Canadian solidarity activists from Solidarity Labour Notes Choir, Crafts for a Cause, Spartacus Bookstore, Coalition for Migrant Workers’ Justice, Iranian Centre for Peace, Freedom and Social Justice, Kathara Collective, Committee for Domestic Workers’ Rights, Lakeview United Church, Mobilization Against War and Occupation and Pride Vancouver were present alongside members of BC’s Latin American communities, and Amnesty International (Richmond chapter). Member of the Legislative Assembly, Mable Elmore also attended.

People gathered under the trees, where photographs of the slain and the disappeared,  the stories of their lives, alongside poems and songs written and dedicated to them, were hung.

Fr. Justin Trinidad, led a ceremony calling on all to work for peace and social justice. He lit a candle representing remembrance and the quest to follow the light of justice.  Dr. Chandu Claver of the Victoria-Philippines Solidarity Group and Bayan-Canada chairperson,  urged the people to continue taking action to oppose human rights abuses and achieve justice and indemnification for the victims.  He and his family came to Canada to find refuge from persecution after his wife and mother of their three daughters was ambushed and killed.

The picnic table covers were soon turned into canvases as picnickers were enjoined to create their own artwork in support of human rights.  People were invited to colour black and white images of abducted students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, indigenous leader James  Balao,  agriculturist -activist Jonas Burgos, slain Bayan Muna coordinator Alyce-Omengan-Claver, botanist  Leonardo Co, and political detainee Ericson Acosta.

People signed postcards addressed to Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino for the surfacing of abducted indigenous human rights activist, James Balao.  A petition for the general, unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners in the Philippines was passed around and signed.

Thousands  of state-sponsored extrajudicial killings and  cases of enforced disappearances committed under the past regime of Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo have yet to be prosecuted and served justice.  Impunity prevails because up to the present, no one has been put behind bars for human rights violations. Now, more than ever, it is important that peace- and justice-loving members of the international community show solidarity with the Filipino people in pressuring the Aquino government to decisively stop human rights violations and end the reigning climate of repression and impunity.

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